Thursday, April 28, 2016

History: The Year is 1776

I've uploaded year 1776 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Ferguson Rifle is Now Patented Mayhem --  I've talked about it before but a breech-loading rifle would have put an end to the American Revolution if the British could have made it happen.

Independence Day! (July 2nd? July 4th? August 2nd?) -- The Declaration of Independence was an legal technicality, probably pushed by John Adams and reluctantly written by Thomas Jefferson. It will make Jefferson a star for generations to come but at the time, it looked my drudge work.

In Other News... -- there is so much other stuff going on this year I can't cover it all. Not even in bullet points.

The Ferguson Rifle is Now Patented Mayhem

Major Patrick Ferguson has patented his breech-loading rifle for use by British forces. (Americans need not apply.) The advantages of this rifle are: it is more accurate to a MUCH longer range than a smooth-bore musket. It can be loaded from a semi-prone position as opposed to muzzle-loading which requires one to stand, and the Ferguson has a firing rate of 6-times-a minute. Muskets can fire 2-times-a-minute and the Kentucky (or Pennsylvania) rifle can be fired once-a-minute. (FYI, I'm guessing once-a-minute, figuring that a You Tube demonstration of loading a Kentucky rifle under ideal conditions, with no pressure other than the sincere desire not to blow one's own head off is probably different from real battlefield conditions.) 100 Ferguson rifles are being deployed to put down the American rebellion, but it is mostly for show. The British Empire suffers from a C.Y.A. bureaucracy that won't tolerate the retraining and equipment costs required to change over. After all, how good could those Kentucky rifles really be? Well... pretty darn good as it turns out. [1]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
If the Ferguson rifle could have been deployed in 1775, there would have been no "Spirit of '76" unless we were talking about the ghosts of dead patriots. Of course if wishes were horses, the British soldiers would all ride, but it was not to be. They had "Brown Bess" muskets which are devastating weapons out to 50 or 60 yards, but otherwise useless as clubs against the Kentucky rifle which can hit a man-sized target out to 200 yards. The best bet for the British soldier would have been to stick to the woods where the range advantage of the Kentucky rifle would have been severely reduced. Unfortunately, European tradition called for open field engagements with men lined up for volley fire. In other words... a turkey shoot. [2] [3]

Independence Day! (July 2nd? July 4th? August 2nd?)

What day is Independence day? It is hard to say. On July 2nd, the Second Continental Congress votes for independence from Great Britain. A few weeks ago John Adams talked Thomas Jefferson into writing up a list of grievances to be submitted to King George the 3rd. There was no title given for this document but they call it the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson didn't want the job, but like a game of musical chairs, he was caught standing when the music died. Jefferson has a gift for words, but after submitting his draft, the Congress makes a number of changes, mostly in the list of grievances. Each colony has its own list of concerns. Congress also objects to the obsequious language that Jefferson is using. It is ancient tradition to address a King in a certain manner. The Congress brooms all that rubbish. Oddly the Congress isn't paying attention to the flowery language at the beginning of the document. Finally, an approved copy is ratified on July 4th. The President of the Congress, John Hancock, signs his name with a flourish. According to tradition (that is, according to later hero-worshiping story-tellers) he signs with a large signature so that King George can read the name without his spectacles. Spectacles are considered a weakness. When George Washington's officers threaten to rebel against the Second Continental Congress to enforce the promises made to them, Washington will pull out his glasses to read their complaint. He excuses his weakness saying, "Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind in the service of my country." The military coup dies aborning. [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, the Liberty Bell (along with all the other bells in Philadelphia) rang on July 8th. But we celebrate the independence of the United States on July 4th. ("United States" was considered plural before the US Constitution was ratified.) Another copy of the document was made and signed on August 2nd by people who hadn't even been present for the original vote. Frankly, the document was an afterthought, a technicality required for its legal implications and in most ways, proforma. The United States (plural) were are war with the British Empire and nothing in the Declaration was going to change that. In later years, the Declaration of Independence became a popular document and its flowery language at the beginning continues to inspire generations. The most remembered line is "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." One wonders why Jefferson ended the sentence with "pursuit of Happiness". Anyone familiar with the philosopher, John Locke, will realize that the last few words could also be interpreted to mean "the pursuit of self-interest" or "the pursuit of property." There is a lot implied there, but I am not well-read enough to comment further. I leave it as an exercise for the student. [7] [8] [9] [10]

In Other News...

A lot of important events are being outshone by the American Revolution. For example:
1. Thomas Paine publishes "Common Sense" and "The American Crisis" anonymously. At the time people think that John Adams is the author, but he denies it.
2. Edward Gibbon publishes The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1. "Another fat book. Eh, Mr. Gibbon? Scribble, scribble, scribble."
3. Companies (mostly miners) are buying the new Watt steam engine to pump water out of the mine. Watt sets the price based on a percentage of the money miners will save using his device. Good marketing.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1776, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1775

I've uploaded year 1775 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

A Few Words Before We Begin -- A list of common facts about the American Revolution.

One If By Land, Two If By Sea -- The British are coming!

Parker's Stand! The Battle of Lexington Green -- A gun goes off accidentally and boom. We are at war.

The Shot heard Around the World: The Battle for the Concord Bridge -- An unauthorized warning shot and BOOM. We are Really at war.

Parker's Revenge! Run! Run! Run! -- Parker runs an ambush.

Bunker Hill: A Battle Worth Losing -- The British take Bunker Hill and wish they hadn't.

George Washington Is Appointed Commander-in-Chief -- The Second Continental Congress convenes and guess what?

A Few Words Before We Begin

1. I cannot do justice in a few paragraphs to the bravery, brutality and plain dumb luck that will occur this year.
2. It is best to have a map of the terrain as it existed. Time has changed that landscape. [1]
3. The Militiamen are not quite the same as the Minutemen but they work together.
4. To this day, no one knows which side fired the first shot at Lexington, but the first shot at Concord was probably British.
5. And remember... both sides think this is going to be a short war. It has to be. Right?
And so it begins as all wars must... at the beginning.

One If By Land, Two If By Sea

It is the 18th of April, but Paul Revere is NOT on the opposite shore! He at the top of the bell town of Christ Church in Boston. The British are coming "by sea." They will cross the harbor (I thought they said "by sea") and head for Lexington to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock for the Boston Tea Party vandalism. Paul lights two lanterns. It is the prearranged signal in case he cannot get out of Boston. Then Paul rows across the harbor to the opposite shore. (Finally!) He is a member of the Sons of Liberty and the Committee of Correspondence. If the British catch him, he could betray them all. He borrows a horse and by 11 PM he is on his way. (Wait! He was supposed to ride at midnight! Another childhood dream is shattered!) Paul has a backup. William Dawes already left at 9:30 PM, going the long way around. Paul reaches Lexington by midnight, waking every home along the way. A sentry tells Paul to stop making so much noise. Paul replies, "You'll have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming out!" Revere will help Adams and Hancock escape but later Revere will be captured by a British patrol. He will make his way back to Lexington on foot. [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Henry Wordsworth Longfellow published The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere in 1863 that brought fame to the memory of Paul Revere. The poem introduced small inaccuracies, but Longfellow was a poet, so "poetic license" seems reasonable. [3]

Parker's Stand! The Battle of Lexington Green

British General Thomas Gage doesn't want this fight, but he has his orders. He has received intelligence of military stores at Concord including brass cannons. He sends 700 infantry the 20 miles to Concord. The troops reach Lexington Green at dawn and are greeted by less than 100 of the Massachusetts Militia led by Captain John Parker. They are seriously outnumbered, but this is just a show of force. Then a shot rings out. Who fired first? No one knows for sure. Captain Parker orders his men to disperse, but it is too late. Muskets come up, and fire, fire, fire. 8 of his men lay dead, 1 of them a black slave. Parker retreats and regroups. He wants payback, and he is going to get it... real soon. [4]
"Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here." -- Captain John Parker at Lexington Green.
My Take by Alex Shrugged
There is evidence that General Gage thought that the supplies at Concord had already been moved. (They had.) One wonders why he sent the troops anyway. Certainly, he was under pressure from his superiors to do something, so he did something. The orders he gave to his troops were meant to avoid creating any martyrs to the cause. Oops! [5]

The Shot heard Around the World: The Battle for the Concord Bridge

700 British infantry meet a force of 250 Concord Militia men on the road that morning of April 19th. The Militia retreats across the North Bridge. This is wise. They have no clear idea of what happened at Lexington so they wait and observe. The British search Concord for the Militia supplies they expected but finding nothing, they decide to take the North and South Concord bridges. Smoke from a fire near the courthouse can be seen. (The British are putting out the fire but from a distance it looks bad.) As British forces cross the North bridge, they are trapped on the same side as the Militia. The Militia presses forward, so the British retreat back across the bridge. Then someone on the British side gets the bright idea of pulling up the planks on the bridge to slow down the Militia. Without orders, the Concord Militia rushes to stop the British from destroying their bridge. A British soldier fires a warning shot. The British troops think that the order to fire has been given. They volley fire into the Minutemen and Militia. Two privates are killed instantly. Many more are wounded. Major John Buttrick of the Concord Militia shouts "Fire, for God's sake, fellow soldiers, fire!" The Concord Militia fire into the British. This is often called "The shot heard around the world." There is no going back now. This is war. [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The events as they transpired at Concord were recorded years later, except for the British report which was filed reasonably quickly. The British commander admitted that one of his soldiers fired the first shot at Concord. (That seems reasonable.) A different British officer said that the rebels fired first at Concord and Lexington. At this point it no longer matters.

Parker's Revenge! Run! Run! Run!

It is noon on April 19th. The British infantry leave Concord after their battle with the Concord Militiamen that morning. The Militiamen seem stunned. They fail to press the attack. The British are marching back to Boston, but they must travel through Lexington Green once more. Captain Parker and the survivors of Lexington Green have laid an ambush for the British along the road. Unfortunately, Captain Parker has no experience with large forces in the field. The British commander has flanking forces out that could wrap up Captain Parker's men fairly quickly if the terrain wasn't so difficult. When Parker's ambush is hit from the side, he retreats in good order and continues to hit the British forces along the road. (The road is no longer as treacherous in the modern day as it once was.) The British commander is wounded, but not dead. His officers can no longer hold the troops. They have stopped retreating. They are now running. [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The British commander (Colonel Smith) took the blame because he delayed at Concord for two hours before leaving... apparently to have a good lunch. Making sure the troops are fed before a 20 mile march seems reasonable, but the delay allowed Captain Parker to organize his men for a substantial series of ambushes. A statue stands at Lexington Green, a monument to Captain Parker. He died of tuberculosis a few months after the battle.

Bunker Hill: A Battle Worth Losing

On the evening of April 19th, Admiral Graves suggests to General Gage that he take Bunker Hill and fortify it. (It is currently unoccupied.) Gage's forces have been weakened after the battles of Lexington and Concord. Beyond that excuse, historians cannot explain why Gage delayed. Breed and Bunker Hills should have been fortified long ago. The rebels decide to seize this ground. On the evening of June 16th, dressed as farmers, William Prescott and the rebels march up the hill and set up barricades. On June 17th, the barricades are noticed, so General William Howe works out a plan to push the Americans off of Breed Hill and Bunker Hill. At the beginning, Howe's plan seems like a good one. He takes some casualties, but he figures that once the rebels break he can swing his forces to the side and wrap them up. The problem is that a critical group of battle-hardened veterans refuses to break. So the British are forced to come straight in and very dumb. The carnage is incredible. Colonel William Prescott shouts the old battle cry, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" After Howe's third assault the fighting breaks down to hand-to-hand. The American Rebels are forced to retreat. The British win! With 282 soldiers dead and 800 wounded, they can't afford to win many more battles like this one. [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In fact the Battle for Breed Hill and Bunker Hill defined how the war with the Americans would be fought... with a mind that all British resources were limited and already in place. No more resources were coming. For the Americans, the resources were unlimited. That was NOT reality. That was the British perception and it colored most of their decisions thereafter. The Battle for Bunker Hill was important but it wasn't a war-winner, except that it changed the behavior of the British. Something similar occurred during World War 2 after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. A small raid was put together to bomb Tokyo in reprisal. From a military perspective, the Doolittle Raid was a useless gesture. Yet, it worried the Japanese commanders, so that they changed their plans just a little. Had they kept to their original plans, they might have won that war. [12]

George Washington Is Appointed Commander-in-Chief

I am briefly mentioning something that is incredibly significant: the colonies are banding together for the sake of mutual defense. During the spring the whole mess came apart, and now Congress must figure out what to do with the pieces. The King has declared that the American colonies are now in a state of rebellion against the King. No more fooling one's self that these injustices were caused by the King's ministers giving the King bad advice. The King knows and he doesn't care. Now the Congress appoints George Washington as commander-in-chief. Why? He is tall and he looks good in a uniform... and he acts honorably... for a Virginian. Congress needs the backing of Virginia to legitimize its authority. Washington buys 5 books on military tactics and begins to read. (That's right. In any other man's army he'd be lucky to rise above the rank of major, but he's grabbed this bag of cow manure and now he has to hold it.) His major talent is that he knows genius when he sees it... and he listens. [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1775, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

History: The Year is 1774

I've uploaded year 1774 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Minutemen and the Rape of Boston -- The Intolerable Acts, a tax collector is tared and feather and another Tea Party.

Johnny Appleseed is Born -- He is going to set up a business... not just throw out random seeds.

The Minutemen and the Rape of Boston

OK. This year has a lot of moving parts.
  • A Boston mob tars and feathers a customs agent, and pours hot tea down his throat. They wrap a rope around his neck and threaten to hang him from the Liberty Tree. Make no mistake... this customs agent is a total ass. He definitely deserves a beating, but he does not merit a hanging. He finally apologizes and resigns his post after they threaten to cut off his ears. [1]
  • Americans call it the Rape of Boston as the British Parliament passes the "Intolerable Acts". Boston Harbor is closed as a punishment for the Tea Party. A political cartoon shows the Earl of Sandwich lifting the skirt of "Boston" while Mother Britannia weeps. Parliament also suspends Massachusetts' royal charter, strengthens the Quartering Act and authorizes criminal trials of British officials to be held in England rather than the colonies. George Washington calls it "The Murder Act" since it lets British officials get away with murder. Washington is contemplating war. [2] [3]
  • The First Continental Congress meets to petition the King but what they get are the Minutemen, and a successful boycott of British goods. They recognize the Committees of Safety as legitimate authorities to raise militias. Even though the colonies already have militias, the Congress sees the need for a private militia that can be gathered quickly. Thus the Minutemen are formed. [4]
  • General Gage arrives in the Colonies to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock, and to cow the colonists. The number of Minutemen increases dramatically. [5] [6]
  • The women of Edenton throw a Tea Party. They join Boston in boycotting English tea. They say, "It is a duty that we owe, not only to our near and dear connections... but to ourselves." It is one of the first women's political protests in America. The English press mocks them as old biddies. [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Remember that communication between the colonies often took weeks. Also, violent agitation was a necessary part of the success of the American Revolution, but Benjamin Franklin and John Adams opposed violent agitation. They felt that it delegitimatized the cause for independence... which it did. On the other hand, if John Adam's plan for a legitimate, principled and legal transition to independence had been followed, we would still be arguing about it. FYI, the British originally called the colonists "Americans" as an insult, but the colonists grew to like it so the label stuck.

Johnny Appleseed is Born

Johnny Appleseed
He is born John Chapman but he will best be known as Johnny Appleseed. Born in the midst of the American Revolution, his mother will die while his father is away fighting. Years later Johnny will apprentice to an orchard-grower where he will learn about tending apples. In these days, apples are used mostly for making applejack... an alcoholic beverage made from apple cider. "Jacking" is a method of freezing or evaporating in order to "jack up" the concentration of alcohol. It is safer than drinking water, especially in areas where water purity is questionable. People don't know about germs yet, but the alcohol kills off most of the germs that make people sick. (FYI, Puritans drink it and kids too. It is considered right and proper.) Johnny Appleseed will wander through Western Pennsylvania and the Ohio Valley in the early 1800s setting up apple tree nurseries. He will use grafting as a method of propagating good apples... not planting random apple seeds. He will sell shares in the nurseries on a per-tree basis to colonists coming across the Allegheny Mountains. The colonists will tend them and he will return yearly to collect his share. Yes. It will be a business... a growing business with benefits for all. That is how he will gain such a good reputation. He will also do a bit of preaching. He will make a little money at this business and by the time he passes away, it will be a going concern, worth millions to his sister who will inherit it. Many of his established orchards will survive into the modern day. [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Applejack today is not always a concentrated hard cider. It is sometimes an apple brandy, so pay attention to what you are drinking. In Texas, it is legal for a parent to serve his children alcohol such as wine or (I assume) applejack, but it is illegal for anyone else to do so even with the parent's written permission. Assume nothing. Check with your local authorities on the laws concerning minors using alcohol. They usually allow the small amounts used for ritual purposes, but I've caught kids in the kitchen chugging what was left in those little cups after the ceremony so keep an eye on those rascals if it bothers you.

This Year in


Year 1774, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

History: The Year is 1773

I've uploaded year 1773 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Forming a Shadow Government -- There is a plan for after-the-war before there is a war. This will cut down on the bloodshed.

Harrison Collects the Money but Not the Longitude Prize -- John Harrison appeals to Parliament for his money. The Longitude Board is waiting for him to drop dead.

Important Events -- British rule in India, Boston Tea Party.

Forming a Shadow Government

A number of letters between Governor Hutchinson and his advisors have come into the possession of Benjamin Franklin. According to Hutchinson, the colonies will NEVER be granted liberty. The American pursuit of equality as Englishmen is a fool's errand. When confronted with his letters, Hutchinson is evasive, so John Hancock has them published. Meanwhile, in the backroom of the Boston Gazette, Samuel Adams is planning the Boston Tea Party. The tea is consigned to Governor Hutchinson and sons. Adams sees an opportunity to destroy Hutchinson financially and force a war between Great Britain and America. But if there is going to be a war, there will also be an "after-the-war". In almost every revolution of the past, there has NOT been a plan for "AFTER-THE-WAR". To avoid disunity and a bloody fight for power, Committees of Safety are organized out of the Committees of Correspondence. They are local shadow governments, meeting in churches, homes and MOSTLY TAVERNS! Their goal is to identify royalists, push them out of key positions and substitute patriots. It is not pretty, but it is better than a stick-in-the-eye or a knife-in-the-back. Know what I mean? [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
If you think that the current political fighting is rough, it is NOTHING compared to the load of stuff going on BEFORE the American Revolution and, AFTER the Revolution too. British ships carried away royalists to avoid the anticipated reprisals and purges. Certainly, royalists suffered, but it was mild in comparison to other revolutions. Over time, the royalists returned. The French Revolution was an example of having no plan for after-the-war. Thomas Paine almost lost his head in France. He was good at agitating but not planning. In the modern day the Reverend Martin Luther King had a dream and a plan. Things didn't "just happen." Rosa Parks didn't just "sit on a bus." That was not spontaneous any more than the Boston Tea Party was. The picture of Walter Gadsden leaning into those Birmingham police dogs told a story of a thousand words but not one of those words was true! He said in an interview that he was not submitting to an attack. He was kneeing that dog in the throat. Seeing is not always believing. [4] [5] [6]

Harrison Collects the Money but Not the Longitude Prize

The English Longitude Board has placed even more conditions on winning the prize. It is clear that the Board intends that John Harrison die of old age before he can collect the prize money for his invention, the marine chronometer. Board members think that using astronomical tables and taking astronomical measurements is better. (Why? Because they are ASTRONOMERS!) King George the 3rd is a science enthusiast and takes pity on John Harrison. The King arranges for him to appear before Parliament to make his case. It awards him the money he is owed. It is not the Longitude Prize but it is the money. It will have to be enough. John Harrison has done what Sir Isaac Newton said could not be done, created a time piece durable enough to be used aboard ship, and accurate enough for calculating a ship's position at sea. Harrison will die three years later at the age of 83. [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
John Harrison could have won the award years earlier, but he kept perfecting the chronometer, making it smaller and smaller until it could be held in the hand. During those years, the membership of the Longitude Board changed and the chairman of the Board was in competition with Harrison for the prize... obviously a conflict of interest. In fact, he sabotaged one of Harrison's earlier chronometers. Despite the politics and back-biting, both methods are useful for navigation in the modern day. Coincidentally, in 1773, Nathaniel Bowditch was born. He will author a book on navigation that is required reading in the modern day and a copy of his book is still carried on every US Navy vessel. The book is entitled, The New American Practical Navigator published in 1802. When Bowditch died, the first full-sized bronze statue in the United States was erected in his honor. [8]

Important Events

  • British Company Rule in India begins. The capital is in Calcutta. Parliament reorganizes the East India Company. [9]
  • Benjamin Franklin publishes the Rules By Which A Great Empire May Be Reduced To A Small One. It reads like the satirical question, "How do you make a million dollars in the airline industry?" Answer: "Start with 10 million." [10]
  • The Boston Tea Party. Samuel Adams leads colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians onto British East India ships and dump their cargo of tea into the bay. it's not the only place that tea is dumped but it is the best remembered. (Please see previous history segments for additional information on the Boston Tea Party.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1773, Wikipedia.

Monday, April 25, 2016

History: The Year is 1772

I've uploaded year 1772 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Granville Sharp Frees the Slaves -- Mr. Sharp is a little nutty. He thinks he can free the slaves on English soil if he finds the right case to bring to court, and it works! BTW, he also married a Miss Flat and they have several children named Doe, Ray, Me... you get the picture. I wish I was kidding.

The Pine Tree Riots -- The King starts cracking down on pine tree thieves... otherwise known as landowners who would like to use their own darn trees! It gets ugly.

The American Credit Crisis -- A lot of British goods are dumped into the American colonies, but the colonists are slow to buy and slow to pay. This causes the credit bubble to burst. By next year. Tea Party.

Granville Sharp Frees the Slaves

Like a single stone causing an avalanche, an Englishman named Granville Sharp has forced a judge to make a ruling on slave ownership on English soil. It all started when an escaped slave named Jonathan Strong fell bloody and broken at Sharp's feet. After 4 months of recovery, Sharp found him a job, and convinced Strong's master to free him. Afterward, Sharp found that English law was ambiguous on slavery, so he found a test case to bring to court: James Somerset is a slave and a Christian demanding his freedom. His master, Charles Stewart, intends to sell him in Jamaica. With over 14,000 slaves currently on English soil, Judge Mansfield is aware of the chaos that will ensue if he rules slavery illegal. The judge frees Somerset on a technicality, but the bottom line is that a slave cannot be taken out of England against his will. This implies that a slave is not property in England because an owner doesn't consult his property about where it shall be located or whether it wishes to be sold or not. Unfortunately the ruling does not apply to slaves in the British colonies, nor to British slave ships working outside of England proper. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
A good example of a narrow legal ruling changing everything is the Scopes Monkey Trial. Back in the early 1920s, Tennessee passed the Butler Law making it illegal to teach evolution in government schools. A test case was brought to trial when a teacher named John Scopes failed to skip that chapter in the textbook. Big name lawyers on both sides turned the trial into a circus and everyone laughed. (That was the plan.) The Butler Law was upheld on appeal because no specific religious view was being promoted... only one scientific view ignored. Scopes got off on a technicality, but the damage was done. Tennessee lawmakers were a laughing stock. The Butler law was repealed. Finally, in 1968, the Supreme Court ruled that the whole idea of banning evolution was unconstitutional. Good. [4]
FYI, evolution is a useful subject to teach in schools. Nevertheless, evolution, as a theory, has big problems with it, but we are not allowed to discuss those problems with students. It might threaten a child's faith... IN SCIENCE! Will we never learn?

The Pine Tree Riots

A law has been in place for decades in New Hampshire that pine trees larger than 12 inches in diameter are to be marked with a hash arrow and left for the King's ship builders to be used as masts. Needless to say (but we'll say it anyway) this law has been a royal pain in the neck for farmers who would like to clear their land for additional farming or to build housing. Licenses are available to cut down the trees but few have bothered. The Royal "surveyors" haven't been enforcing the law until now. They finally notice that a number of the trees have ended up at local saw mills, so the mills are fined. When the mill owners at Weare refuse to pay their fines, the Sheriff goes out to arrest Ebenezer Mudgett who is leading the protestors. Mudgett convinces the Sheriff to wait until morning, so that he can arrange bail. Instead, Mudgett arranges for 20 townspeople to beat the Sheriff with switches. He is run out of town, humiliated. This is called the Pine Tree Riot, and by the standards of the time, a riot is exactly what it is. The rioters hightail it out of town before the Sheriff returns with British troops. Eventually, a number of the offenders give themselves up or are caught and fined 20 shillings or a little over $160 each. This is considered a light fine given the offense and the Sheriff is livid. [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
When you have a trial by your peers, they tend to give you a break as long as your offense is understandable to them. It's not exactly jury nullification, but there were a heck of a lot of trees in New England at the time. If the King wanted the trees he should have paid for them. By marking them as his own, he was imposing a tax on the landowner. In the 1770s, the American colonists did not react well to taxes from the King. Regarding the symbol of the pine tree, most people remember the American battle flag with a lone pine tree. There were several versions of the flag but the meaning would have been clear to the Navy that required pine trees for their own shipbuilding and repairs. The motto on the flag was "An Appeal to Heaven" which was a quote from John Locke suggesting that revolution was a right of the people when the normal options were closed to them. [8]

The American Credit Crisis

In an attempt to finance various get-rich-quick schemes, easy credit has caused British exporters to send a heck of a lot of goods to America, but due to American objections to the Townsend Acts, the Stamp Act, and the Boston Massacre, American colonists are reluctant to buy or slow to pay. It's not a complete embargo, but it certainly is an avoidance of British goods. British banks have been playing with the books in order to hide their exposure, but a prominent banker can no longer fool his partners, so he skips town and shows up in France. The economic bubble bursts. Bankruptcies increase, stocks fall. The East India Company is in trouble. They are pleading for Parliament to help. Next year, Parliament will pass the Tea Act. It will allow the East India Company to sell directly to the American colonies without paying a middle man in England first. This scheme will reduce the cost of tea while pumping money into the failing company. Everyone wins! Right? The colonists won't like propping up a British company while the America economy suffers, so the tea will be dumped into Boston Harbor. [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Of course the other reason for dumping tea into Boston Harbor was that cheap tea would kill the lucrative smuggling operation that Americans had going. However, in Virginia there were other problems. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson made use of British agents to sell their crops. Frankly, it was the only way to do business with England, but it was easy to get caught between low crop yields and big loans due. The Virginia planters felt like the British bankers and agents were cheating them, and then leaving the planters deep in debt with no way to catch up. In the modern day, under the best of circumstances, farmers can get caught out due to fluctuating markets. For example, a farmer might plant wheat in anticipation of a good market in a few months, but by then the price might drop, leaving the farmer without enough money to cover his basic expenses. Farming can be a gamble. This is where commodity markets come in. Investors take the gamble, and farmers get a more-or-less guaranteed price for their crops. They don't make as much money but then again... they lose a lot less too. [11] [12] [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1772, Wikipedia.

Friday, April 22, 2016

History: The Year is 1771

I've uploaded year 1771 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Where Are They Today? -- Revolution is on the back-burner so let's see what a few prime movers of the American Revolution are doing right now.

Great Scott! It's Groundhog Day! -- A great poet is quoted in a comedy movie starring Bill Murray... Groundhog Day!

The First Factory -- The new carding machine is set up to use water power. They are mass-producing cotton fiber to be made into yarn.

Where Are They Today?

For the next few years the situation in the American colonies will simmer. The embargo of British goods has lost some momentum as tariffs are rescinded or reduced. So let's look at where key people of the American Revolution are this year...
  • Alexander Hamilton is a 15-year-old bastard. He is also a bookkeeper at an import-export business in the West Indies. One of the partners is ill so Hamilton takes over. He berates captains for not meeting their schedules... AND THEY TAKE IT! This kid is going far, but there is no glory in bookkeeping which causes Hamilton to remark, "I wish there was a war." [1]
  • George Washington is 39-years-old and has taken the embargo on British goods about as far as it can go. He is diversifying his farming from tobacco into wheat and horse trading. His slaves are fishing and raising chickens in order to feed themselves. He talks about "The Cause" (meaning liberty) but not revolution... yet. [2]
  • James Madison has graduated from Princeton at 20-years-old. Frankly, he hates the law but Thomas Jefferson has sent him some interesting books on ancient Greece and democracy. Oh, dear. Madison is getting ideas. [3] [4]
  • Henry Knox has opened The London Book-Store in Boston. It features books on military tactics. Knox is 21-years-old and a personable guy. John Adams will frequent the bookstore. During the American Revolution, Adams will be the Secretary of War and Knox will be a colonel and later a general for the artillery. [5]

Great Scott! It's Groundhog Day!

Sir Walter Scott, is born this year in Scotland (of course) to a mother who loves poetry. His fame as a poet and novelist will range far and wide. He will be the founder of a new type of literature... the historical novel. He will be the author of Rob Roy and Ivanhoe. He will also author the poem, "The Lady of the Lake" from which Fredrick Douglass will derive his last name. The Presidential theme "Hail to the Chief" will come from the same poem. Also the phrase "Great Scott!" will be a reference to Walter Scott. [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Sir Walter Scott is very quotable so here are a few quotes...
  • Tell that to the marines--the sailors won't believe it.
  • A miss is as good as a mile.
  • Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.
  • To the timid and hesitating everything is impossible because it seems so.
  • Success or failure in business is caused more by the mental attitude even than by mental capacities.
And, of course, the famous quote from the movie, Groundhog Day (1993) in the diner as Phil is stuffing his face, Rita quotes...
The wretch, con-centered all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
Rita ends with, "Sir Walter Scott!"
Phil laughs so Rita asks, "What? You don't like poetry?
Phil responds mockingly, "I love poetry. I just thought that was Willard Scott. I was confused." [8] [9]

The First Factory

Richard Arkwright has made improvements to the original carding machine and has taken on a partner to establish the first modern factory. The carding machine is used to separate the fibers of cotton or wool by turning a crank. The fibers are then suitable to be made into yarn. Now the machine is water-powered. It may not seem like much but compared to the way it was done in the past, they are producing piles and piles of cotton and wool without requiring a lot of trained labor. They turn the crank and money practically falls out the other end. [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Richard Arkwright is sometimes called the Father of the Industrial Age but several people earned that honor, such as James Watt, who patented an improvement to his steam engine around the same time. When they finally linked the steam engine to the crank of the carding machine they were able to site factories based on where they could get cheap labor or ease of product shipping rather than looking for those few spots with running water to power the cranks.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1771, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

History: The Year is 1770

I've uploaded year 1770 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Boston Massacre -- A private mistake turns into a major propaganda tool for the Americans.

The Ferguson Rifle, a Radical New Method for Mayhem -- A breech loading rifle that can fire 6 times a minute is too good to believe so the British delay and delay in adopting it.

I Know! Let's Call It Rubber! -- Rubber gets its name.

The Boston Massacre

British troops came to Boston to guard against violence. Boston reacted with a boycott of British goods so the British moved all shipping to Salem. This resulted in an economic downturn and less tax money available TO PAY THE TROOPS. To make ends meet, British soldiers are taking odd jobs in town. This has led to a close intermingling of the guards with the Boston citizens, especially in taverns. Fights break out regularly and those incidents are scandalized in the newspapers. Recently, an 11-year-old-boy was killed by a customs official, so Boston is in an uproar when a young apprentice named Edward Garrick tries to collect an overdue bill at the customs office. After an exchange of insults, Private Hugh White leaves his guard post and strikes Edward on the head for his insolence. Henry Knox, a bookseller and future General of the Revolution, reminds White that if he kills the boy it means a murder charge. A mob forms so Captain Preston reinforces White with armed troops. The Captain has no intention of ordering his men to fire, but someone hits Private Montgomery with a rock, causing him to drop his musket. He picks it up, shouts at the mob and fires. Someone swings a club at Captain Preston. In a few quick seconds, four protestors lie dead in the street. Many others are wounded and some will die later. Captain Preston and his men are arrested for murder and Boston is crying for their blood! [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The newspapers really stirred up the crowd, urged on by Samuel Adams and his buddy, John Hancock. Samuel's 2nd cousin, John Adams, was a lawyer and a good one. (He later became President of the United States.) John defended the British troops at trial. Captain Preston was acquitted since he never gave the order to fire and he had been standing IN FRONT OF THE MUSKETS at the time of the incident. Two of his men were convicted of manslaughter. The jury felt that the soldiers were sufficiently threatened that it wasn't murder. (For the modern equivalent, see the Kent State Massacre of 1970 where the National Guard fired 67 shots into a crowd of unarmed college students. Afterward the criminal charges against the Guard were dropped.) While Captain Preston's trial was on the up-and-up, the Boston Massacre became a rallying cry for the abuses of British rule and misgovernment. As with all propaganda, the first casualty is the truth. Samuel Adams and others made the Boston Massacre sound like genocide. [4]

The Ferguson Rifle, a Radical New Method for Mayhem

A rifle took ten minutes to load... until now. Major Patrick Ferguson has reworked an earlier design so that his new BREECH LOADING rifle can load and fire 6 times a minute! It is faster than a smooth-bore musket which can fire 2 times a minute and it is more accurate due to the rifling of the bore. One can also load it from a semi-prone position. Ferguson won't be issued a patent until 1776 when the British Army will order 100 rifles in order to put down the American Revolution. (FYI... it was just an experiment. It didn't help.) [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
So... why didn't the British adopt this new super-weapon immediately? There were three reason why not. First, the military didn't like radical leaps forward. They liked incremental improvements. Secondly, the rifle required careful machine work so the maximum number of rifles that Great Britain could have produced at the time was 1,000 per year, maximum. And third... Major Ferguson died before the rifle gained acceptance. He was the first and best advocate for the rifle that bears his name. When he died, the rifle died with him... and that was probably a good thing for the American Revolution. [7]

I Know! Let's Call It Rubber!

"Rubber" gets its name when the scientist, Joseph Priestley, realizes that the bouncy material can "rub off" pencil marks. Scientists have been looking for ways to use rubber other than as a ball. (How about as a HOSE!) Rubber has been a novelty item since the Middle Ages when it was introduced to Europe by the Aztecs. Joseph Priestley is the same guy who discovered oxygen, and he made his name when he invented carbonated beverages. [8] [9] [10]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1770, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

History: The Year is 1769

I've uploaded year 1769 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Contest to Nourish Man -- Unseasonable weather has devastated crops so France has a contest to find a new food to feed the masses. The potato wins, but it's illegal to grow potatoes in France.

The Privileges of a Princess, a King and a President -- Marie Antoinette accepts a proposal of marriage from the Prince of France. I talk about her devotion to the institution of the monarchy even though she didn't particularly like court politics.

The Virginia Assembly is Hereby Dissolved -- Massachusetts asks for colonial support during the British occupation of Boston. The Virginia legislature passes laws in support and is dissolved in retaliation. I talk about how this turns into a personal vendetta for Samuel Adams.

The Contest to Nourish Man

Rain and snow out of season have played havoc with crops in eastern France. This has led to food shortages and in particular... bread shortages. Remember that bread is considered one of the essentials like water and shelter. About 50% of one's income goes to buying bread. Thus, when there is a shortfall or crop failure, the price of bread goes through the roof. It's been happening so regularly that a guy can never get ahead. In order to solve this problem, one of the eastern cities puts on a contest to generate new food ideas. A fellow named Parmentier wins with the potato. He got the idea after being forced to eat potatoes as a prison-of-war. Currently, cultivating potatoes is illegal in France because it is thought to cause disease. Parmentier is going to turn that attitude around, and a lot more. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Anger over bread shortages was a concern to the French aristocracy. It was not a fear of being overthrown, but they felt a duty to keep order so that their children had something left that was worth ruling over. The peasantry speculated that the aristocracy had been hording grain to drive up the price. "Let them eat cake!" had been the rumored response of the French aristocrats. (It is unlikely any of them said it. They were not fools.) Certainly, Marie Antoinette never said it. Benjamin Franklin maintained an experimental potato patch while he was in France. He had it guarded as if the potatoes were the most valuable crop in the world. He then withdrew the guards at night allowing the poor to "steal" his potatoes. It wasn't until the population was starving that they finally adopted the potato. In later years Parmentier promoted the sweet potato, and the Jerusalem artichoke. When he died, his grave was surrounded by potato plants. [3]

The Privileges of a Princess, a King and a President

Antoinette is the young daughter of the Holy Roman Empress, Marie Teressa. Antoinette received a proposal of marriage from the young Mozart. The insolence of a commoner was forgiven because of his excellent musical performance and frankly, protocol was fairly loose in the court of the Empress. However, Marie Teressa is coldly calculating in marrying off her children to secure political alliances. Her most important scheming is bent toward marrying off Antoinette to the heir apparent of France... the future King Louis 16th (The Desirable). The hope of the Empress is to control France through her daughter. The proposal finally comes through this year and by next year the couple will be married. Antoinette is all of 14 years old. She will be known as Marie Antoinette in France. [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Yes. Marie Antoinette was a kid. Their marriage started off poorly because her new husband, the Prince, was timid if you know what I mean. His father, King Louis the 15th, was so concerned, he personally examined the Prince. (I'm not sure what the King was looking for but apparently the Prince looked normal.) After a few years the couple were able to procreate, and my sense is that they liked each other... mostly. When the Prince became King Louis the 16th he tried his best to live up to expectations, but frankly, he didn't think he deserved to be king. He preferred to work with his hands. Commoners were amazed when he told them he was the king. He seemed so... normal. Marie Antoinette was also approachable, but make no mistake. They both felt a strong duty to maintain the monarchy as an institution. In the modern day the President of the United States has acquired a great deal of power when compared to the original powers granted by the Constitution. President George W. Bush said that he had a duty to the office to maintain the executive privileges of the Presidency not only for himself but for those who will come after him. [5]

The Virginia Assembly is Hereby Dissolved

After the imposition of the Townshend Acts, Samuel Adams sent out a circular letter (like a "circular" in the modern day but more official) to all the colonial legislatures asking for support in protesting these illegal and inappropriate Acts and asking for King George the 3rd to rescind them. When the Secretary of State for the Colonies demanded that the circular letter be revoked, the General Court of Massachusetts deadlocked on the issue, 69 to 69 so the Massachusetts governor (a King's man) dissolved the court, and called British troops into Boston to quell the riots. Now the Virginia House of Burgesses (their legislature) have passed several resolutions in support of Massachusetts. This has infuriated the Virginia governor (a King's man) and he dissolves the assembly of the Virginia House of Burgesses whose membership includes Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. No worries, though. Most of the real politics gets done in the taverns anyway. (Really.) [6] [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The British troops that Massachusetts Governor Bernard called in to stop the Boston riots were the same ones that took part in the Boston Massacre in 1770. Also, it is not often cited, so I'll point it out now. There was bad blood (I mean it was really personal) between Samuel Adams and Lt. Governor Thomas Hutchinson. After Governor Bernard was recalled to England, Hutchinson was left in charge... and shucks! Suddenly, the Boston Massacre just happens, prompted by Samuel Adam's taunts, more than likely. And guess who will own a major share in that consignment of tea that ends up in Boston Harbor a few years later? That would be Thomas Hutchinson with one of the "Indians" looking suspiciously like Samuel Adams. It wasn't all political or even principled. Some of it was deeply personal. Samuel Adams did not forget a grudge and it was tough keeping the lid on him after the Revolution. The same with Thomas Payne. [9]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1769, Wikipedia.

Monday, April 18, 2016

History: The Year is 1768

I've uploaded year 1768 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Captain Cook's Journey to the Undiscovered Country -- He has secret orders to map Australia and New Zealand.

'No Liberty! No King!' -- It's not the Boston massacre. This massacre is in London.

Notable Events -- Dolley Madison, Slater the Traitor and Encyclopedia Britannica.

Captain Cook's Journey to the Undiscovered Country

Australia has already been discovered by various Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish sailors, but apparently it doesn't count until the English discover it. Captain Cook is sent to Tahiti under secret orders to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun. The next opportunity won't take place for another 100 years. Other nations are suspicious of the British Empire sending ships across the world, so once Captain Cook reaches Tahiti, he opens his SECOND set of secret orders. They read in part... [1] [2] [3]
"Whereas there is reason to imagine that a Continent or Land of great extent, may be found to... the Southward of the Track of any former Navigators ... you are to proceed to the southward in order to make discovery of the Continent above mentioned... You are also, with the consent of the natives, to take possession of convenient situations in the country in the name of the King of Great Britain; or, if you find the country uninhabited, take possession for His Majesty by setting up proper marks and inscriptions as first discoverers and possessors." [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Cook's journey was the first major circumnavigation of the globe since Magellan. Advances in navigation such as the marine chronometer and an early sextant meant that the area was worth a second look just for the new mapping opportunities. Cook's ship, the Endeavour, stopped in Botany Bay to make repairs. Botany Bay became a favorite place for the British to dump criminals and undesirables after the American colonies declared independence. Cook proved that sauerkraut keeps scurvy away. He also returned with a delightful understanding of the "free love" practices of the Tahitians. (The natives also believed in "free stuff" so he had to watch out for natives walking off with his equipment.) Reports of the journey amazed England and everyone who returned from that expedition was considered a hero, including the scientists who managed to return alive. [5]

'No Liberty! No King!'

It's a massacre as British troops fire into the crowd. 6 are dead. 15 are wounded. It's not Boston. IT'S LONDON! The roots of this riot began in 1763 when John Wilkes published an article that was critical of King George the 3rd. (The actual offense was sedition. It was implied, but obvious enough.) The King issued a general warrant and people were swept up including Wilkes. Wilkes was a member of Parliament so he argued successfully that he retained his free speech rights. He went right on publishing. Parliament then moved to expel Wilkes from the Commons so he fled the country. He was forced to return this year after he ran out of money. He is now in prison, but his supporters have been gathering in protest shouting "No Liberty! No King!". They are read the Riot Act and ordered to disperse. They refuse. Out come the muskets and you know the rest. [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
John Wilkes ran a campaign from his London prison for a Bill of Rights. Essentially, he wanted to outlaw bribery in Parliament. (Outrageous!) He supported the American "No taxation without representation" campaign and he called for "full and equal representation of the people." The basics. After he was released he was appointed sheriff in London. When researching what a "general warrant" was, I found that it was a 1767 law allowing customs officials to demand assistance from local sheriffs in smuggling investigations. That included rounding up "the usual suspects" and rummaging through people's stuff, looking for contraband. Thank goodness that doesn't happen any more. Oh. Wait. Can you say "New York stop-and-frisk?" [7] [8] [9] [10]

Notable Events

  • Encyclopedia Britannica publishes part 1. 100 parts are planned. They will be bound into three volumes, so the parts are short. [11]
  • Dolley Madison is born. She will become First Lady, and during the War of 1812, she will make sure that famous portrait of George Washington is saved before the British come rolling through. [12]
  • Samuel Slater "The Traitor" is born in England. He will bring the Industrial Revolution to the USA! In Great Britain he will be known as "Slater the Traitor!" [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1768, Wikipedia.

Friday, April 15, 2016

History: the Year is 1767

I've uploaded year 1767 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The War of the Regulation -- A vigilante group called the Regulators is keeping the backwoods safe for decent folk but when the brigands murder a Regulator it is war. The Regulators may have fired the first shots of the Revolution when they confront the Governor of North Carolina.

Charles Townshend and the Art of Misgovernment -- The British have slapped an import tariff on the American colonies along with other things too long (and horrible) to mention.

The First Solar Oven -- A geologist experiments with layered glass and a box and creates the first solar oven.

The War of the Regulation

A vigilante group called the Regulators is bringing justice to brigands in the woods of North and South Carolina, but it soon turns ugly. Here is how it starts. Indian attacks have left people homeless. They take up hunting to feed themselves, but they are leaving carcasses around and the rotting meat is attracting predators. They hunt at night, setting fires to frighten the deer. But now livestock are missing. (Hey! A cow looks like a deer in the dark. Right?) They have taken up robbery, torturing homeowners to reveal their hiding places for valuables. One farmer has his toes burned off. By any definition, these people are brigands. Corruption is rampant in the Carolinas so asking for help from the local sheriff is out of the question. The sheriff is the guy who collects your taxes... and often "loses" the payment record and returns to collect your taxes AGAIN! So who do you call? The Regulators. They are a mixed bag of good and bad. Many of them will become Justices of the Peace in later years but for now they are dispensing justice... usually beatings... really severe beatings and occasional house-burnings. So the brigands organize to fight the Regulators. It's getting real. They drag James Mayson (a Regulator) from his home. His body is found 80 miles away. Now, it's war. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Backwoods justice is not new. Why mention this? Well.. you have a group of men, organized like an armed police force and willing to do violence when they see injustice. There is government corruption that is so bad that they look at the sheriff as if he is one of the brigands. And to top it off, the few judges they have are working in collusion with the sheriffs. So... when the British Governor goes overboard and taxes the colonists (using the same corrupt system of sheriffs and judges) what do you think a group of organized, armed men are going to do? [4] In 1771, the Battle of Alamance may well have been the first shots taken in anger against the British. It was just going to be a show of force to frighten the British governor. He was frightened all right. Bang, bang, bang. The locals still call it the first shots of the American Revolution and a plaque marks the spot where 6 Regulators were hanged by the British for their insolence. It reads in part...
"Our blood will be as good seed in good ground, that will soon produce one hundred fold." -- James Pugh, under the gallows at Hillsboro, N.C., June 19th, 1771. [5]

Charles Townshend and the Art of Misgovernment

When you crunch the numbers, Great Britain really is drowning in debt and after the repeal of the Stamp Act the resentment between Parliament and the American colonies can be felt. Charles Townshend is the British Chancellor of the Exchequer. He thinks that the objection to the Stamp Act was to taxation within the colonies, so slapping an external tax like a tariff on glass, paint and tea should be fine. Right? He makes tea tax-free in England, but tea exported to the colonies still gets the normal duty of two shillings and six plus the 3 pence Townsend tax per pound of tea. The total tax is a little over $22.50 per pound in modern dollars, not counting the cost of the tea itself. (No wonder Americans drink coffee.) He uses the tariff revenues to pay British colonial governors and judges. This removes the "power of the purse" from the colonial legislatures. Boston reacts quickly and resolves to stop buying British. Tea smuggling increases. Next year, John Hancock's sloop, The Liberty, will be seized by customs officials. Riots will ensue. [6] [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
So... when was the Boston Tea Party? That was in 1773 after the Parliament passed the Tea Act which actually lowered the cost of British Tea by allowing direct imports to North America rather than passing through Great Britain's ports. That saved on British port duties, but by that time they could have offered the tea for free and it still would have ended up in the harbor. Look. It's not about the size of the tax. The colonists were reacting to the idea that Great Britain could impose ANY tax without representation. Eventually, Britain will give in, but with warships in the harbor, the offer of reconciliation will ring hollow. I think it was an honest offer, but it was in the sense of a parent giving in to a petulant child. "Yes. Perhaps Daddy yelled too much. I'm sorry. Now... take out the trash, Johnny." At some point everyone crossed a line and there was no going back. [10] [11]

The First Solar Oven

Horace is a Swiss geologist who loves to hike the Alps. He is considered the first mountaineering enthusiast. (You mean you actually climb mountains for fun?) But on this occasion he is looking into the causes of heat and cold. He notices that a room with a window facing the sun-side of the house is measurably warmer. He wonders if it is something about the sunlight. Is sunlight really a form of fire? IMPOSSIBLE! But he thinks it has to do with the glass, so he builds a box with three spaced layers of glass over top and exposes it to the Sun. He places fruit inside and the fruit starts to cook! He takes the box up and down the mountains and finds that he can still reach high temperatures, though he finds that the "hot box" as he calls it, works better when he insulates the sides. He publishes his findings along with his conclusions on what might be happening, but he has just created the first solar oven. [12] [13] [14]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Wow! And he didn't even use aluminum foil!

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1767, Wikipedia.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

History: The Year is 1766

I've uploaded year 1766 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Mad King Christian and Deciding who Makes the Decisions -- Denmark is in big trouble now. Their King is 16 years old and insane!

The Stamp Act is Repealed for the Price of Liberty -- In order to get enough votes to repeal the Stamp Act, Parliament agrees to the Declaratory Act which declares that Parliament can pass any kind of law whatsoever in the colonies.

Also Mentioned -- Sidewalks, Bees and the Mason-Dixon Line.

Mad King Christian and Deciding who Makes the Decisions

King Fredrick the 5th of Denmark is dead at the age of 42, having fathered many children. (Yes, he was a real horn-dog and he drank quite a lot which contributed to his early death.) His last words are, "It is a great consolation to me in my last hour that I have never willfully offended anyone, and that there is not a drop of blood on my hands." His reign has been a been a nice break for everyone. Now his son, Christian the 6th takes the throne at the age of 16 and he is insane. Shortly after his coronation, he marries the sister of King George the 3rd of England, Princess Caroline Matilda. She is 15-years-old and has no idea of his mental condition. Fortunately, King Christian doesn't like her. He says that it is "unfashionable to love one's wife," so he leaps into a life of sexual promiscuity. By next year he will fall into episodes of deep depression, paranoia, and self-mutilation. Then he will bring in a doctor who will become his salvation, the Queen's lover and the dictator of Denmark. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
This is an unresolved controversy, but for a while, Denmark was being led by Dr. Struensee (STREW-en-see) who was having sex with the Queen. That doesn't mean the doctor had bad intentions. (God knows someone had to do SOMETHING about the crazy king) but a number of reforms were pushed through that disrupted the expected path of Danish events. Was that all due to the doctor? Well... King Christian the 6th was insane but that doesn't mean "stupid". There are reports from ministers who worked directly with the King that he still had the mental capacity to make good decisions... at times. Unfortunately, the effort to hide the King's insanity make it impossible to know who decided what. In a similar situation, President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke which may or may not have done a lot of damage to his mental capacity, but the cover up caused fear that the country was being run by the First Lady, a woman without a high school education. Thus, the 25th Amendment was passed to handle this exact situation. President Ronald Reagan lost some of his mental capacity after he took a bullet during an assassination attempt, but doctors and staff concluded that he was forgetful, but well within bounds to continue. It all worked out, but deciding who makes the decisions when the decider is broken remains a problem. [5] [6] [7]

The Stamp Act is Repealed for the Price of Liberty

The British Navy has interdicted shipping from the colonies looking for violations of the Stamp and Sugar Acts... and find definite violations. Other ships make a run for it (like modern drivers speeding up while the police ticket another driver for speeding.) Benjamin Franklin is invited to speak before the British Parliament on behalf of the colonies. He makes the case that the colonies have no objection to Parliament collecting taxes for external transactions (tariffs) but he protests in the strongest way the taxes levied for internal transactions. The Parliament agrees to repeal the Stamp Act and to lessen the charges under the Sugar Act, but only on condition that a new law be passed that says that Parliament has a right to tax the colonies for any reason whatsoever, internal or external and always did have the right. This is called the Declaratory Act because it declares (rather than passes into law) taxation without representation. They are saying that they don't need a new law to do this. American colonists are mocked by the British press. The victory over the Stamp Act has flung the Americans into the abyss. "No taxation without representation" becomes the motto of the Sons of Liberty. [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
If Parliament already had the right to taxation without representation then what need was there for the Declaratory Act? The early royal charters for the larger colonies were worded so that one could argue that the colonies had the right to pass laws for themselves. Parliament had to render that aspect of the charters null and void as it did to Ireland in order to bring it under the yoke of Great Britain. American colonists cheered when they heard the news of the repeal... believing they had won everything, but they had given up their liberty. Parliament had granted themselves permission to do whatever they wanted. "In all cases whatsoever", means in absolutely everything.

FYI: Read everything about the American Revolution with caution. The American leadership knew that history was in the making and that future generations would be looking over their shoulders. In 1774, John Adams directied his wife, Abigail, to preserve his letters to her and by 1776 he was copying his letters to Abigail in a book. Thomas Jefferson did something similar and George Washington preserved his official correspondence even though Martha burned his personal letters after his death. They knew you would be watching so they were not entirely candid. This was coupled with the hero worship they received from the next generation. John Adams reminded them that his generation did no better than the new generation could have done, but his protests went unheeded. That is why history from those days is a little too shiny, if you know what I mean. [9] [10] [11] [12]

Also Mentioned

  • John Mills publishes "An Essay on the Management of Bees". Benjamin Franklin will also sponsor him for the Royal Society this year. [13]
  • The Mason-Dixon Survey is completed. They will stay to make other measurements for the Royal Society. [1]
  • The 1st paved sidewalks appear in Westminster, London. [1]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1766, Wikipedia.